Avengers vs the Pet Avengers 1

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Reviewed by 17-Nov-10

Remember the 1960’s, when Marvel was ‘cool’ because they did flatulent cosmic bollocks like Silver Surfer, and DC wasn’t because they did all the stuff with Super-Pets? Well, time for us uncool ones to get our smug on, because Marvel, unexpectedly, has reversed the trend and restored fun to comics again.

HEAVY PETTING

Remember the 1960s, when Marvel was ‘cool’ because they did flatulent cosmic bollocks like Silver Surfer, and DC wasn’t because they did all the stuff with Super-Pets?

Well, time for us uncool ones to get our smug on, because Marvel, unexpectedly,  has reversed the trend and restored fun to comics again, with wacky models, leather-slappin’ cowboys, and super-pets – all with a 21st century twist, but hewing firmly to the values of the Weisinger era.

Case in point; Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, having gone through two previous mini-series (each with a follow-up stand-alone special), and now in its third outing.

You might question what heights our meritorious menagerie – Lockjaw, Lockheed, Hairball, Redwing, Zabu, Throg and Ms. Lion – might legitimately aspire to after their first triumpant adventure, where they battled Thanos to rescue the Infinity Gauntlet, but this time, apparently, they’re doing the “heroic misunderstanding” routine and taking on their bipedal counterparts!

Except not really, at least not this issue.  The human Avengers having been transformed into frogs (but it’s only the boring Avengers, Cap, Thor and Iron Man, so no loss there), they’re forced to call their animal equivalents into action to save the day against the menace of Fin Fang Foom – yes, the classic Kirby monster, enormous purple panties an’ all – and his revived brothers and sisters in the dragon community, intent on re-taking the Earth they once ruled. Taking a valiant stand, our heroes, both human and, er, frog, get promptly eaten by the opposition – all apart from Lockheed, who is spared because he shares a bond with the dragon fraternity.

All well and good, and pausing (pawsing? Sorry…) only to note that the transformed human Avengers make a much poorer showing against the enemy than the animal team do, the main attraction of the series, as previously, is not the action but the interaction, particularly in the opening sequence where it’s established that the Pet Avengers have now become familar as the protectors of an area near Central Park, known to local shopkeepers and residents.

The banter between the critters is charming; each has a distinctive personality, concisely established, that puts Brian Michael Bendis’ interminable verbal padding in the ‘senior’ Avengers titles to shame. (“This issue in New Avengers! Luke Cage makes a cup of COFFEE!! While SHOUTING!!! And his wife shouts BACK! Next issue; the same damn scene from HER viewpoint, with a three-issue crossover to Secret Drinkers, which you don’t even BUY!!!!!”)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes. The personalities of the animal protagonists – morose Lockheed, stuck-up Redwing, Irascible Hairball and all – are charmingly portrayed, and the story cunningly done. Artist Ig Guara, once again, deftly manages the task of conveying a variety of feelings on the faces of animals – which aren’t really built for that wide an emotional pallette – without resorting to anthropomorphic fudging.

Depending how much of a purist you are, you can ignore the Pet Avengers’ adventures from the perspective of the greater Marvel Continuity, or – to take a completely impartial and unbiased position – if you take the stick out of your arse, the stories fit right into the events of the Marvel Universe, doing no harm to any, and providing a welcome relief from the overall pomp and pretension.

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9 responses to “Avengers vs the Pet Avengers 1”

  1. Remember the 1960’s, when Marvel was ‘cool’ because they did flatulent cosmic bollocks like Silver Surfer, and DC wasn’t because they did all the stuff with Super-Pets?

    But… but isn’t Lockjaw from the Sixties?

  2. […] was pretty scathing about Bendis in his Pet Avengers review, and you can’t deny that at times he is keen on LONG conversations with very little […]

  3. Mike Teague says:

    I turned my nose up at the whole Pet Avengers run, thinking this was one team too many / silly.
    I made the same mistake a few years ago with Young Avengers, then hearing a lot of good comments I bought the first TPB, read it and immediately bought the second TPB !
    I eventually decided to give this new series a try, but only on the condition that Dave’s Comics still had #1 along with #2. Sure enough, there at the back of their pile of #2’s was a solitary #1. Not any more.
    This series is just wonderful. I love the interplay between the characters. I should know that any series featuring Lockjaw would be great.
    Furthermore, for decades I have wanted to see the Avengers fight Fin Fang Foom, since before he formally became part of the Marvel Universe. This looks like being the closest attempt to date.
    I will now have to search out the previous TPBs….
    BTW, whilst I recognise most of the cast, who are Hairball and Ms Lion ? Which series did they originate from ???

  4. Will Morgan says:

    Hairball was Neils the Bouncing Cat, former pet of Speedball, who gained his amazing powers in the same way as his human mentor. Which I forget. Oops.

  5. Will Morgan says:

    Sorry, Niels, not Neils. Tsk.

  6. Will Morgan says:

    Mike’s next question; “Who is Speedball?”

    • Mike Teague says:

      Thank you Martin and Will for your speedy responses, the nature of which explain why I would never have guessed their origins. I did watch Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends at the time but have managed to blank it out from my memory – I had even forgotten Firestar’s background when she joined the Avengers, so the mutt had no chance.
      Amazingly, I do know who Speedball is, providing we’re talking about the Ditko character who went on to become involved in the explosion which led to the Civil War; joined Thunderbolts as Pennance and is now helping the Avengers Academy as Speedball again.
      I have read the Iron Man vs Fin Fang Foom story, but thank you for suggesting it, Martin. As you say, beautifully drwan by JRjr, but not so beautifully written by John Byrne if I remember.

  7. Mike Teague says:

    Don’t miss Guardians Team-Up #5, featuring Rocket Racoon and the Pet Avengers !
    I read that on the day of the Election result and it provided some much needed cheering up !!!

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